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Grinders, Claws, Darwin, and Dinosaurs

Paleontologists and geologists had a pretty solid understanding of our planets remarkable history by the mid 1800’s. This is lightly touched on in a background story called Grinders, Claws, Darwin, and Dinosaurs.

The Morrison Formation

At the end of 1876, dinosaurs were virtually unknown. One year later a rather remarkable picture of a gigantic long necked, long tailed, plant eating dinosaurs was underway along with a huge predatory meat eating dinosaurs.

Dinosaurs were found almost simultaneously in three separate locations in the American West in 1877; Morrison Colorado, Canon City Colorado, and Como Bluffs Wyoming. These sites are historically tied together, providing a core piece of what is sometimes called the dinosaur bone wars. This war began in 1877 and continued until both Professor Cope from Philadelphia and Professor Marsh of Yale died in the 1890’s.

Morrison, Canon City, and Como Bluffs are not just tied together historically; all three discovery locations were found in layers of sandstone and shale that were soon called the Morrison Formation (age dated from about 155 to about 148 million years ago) because of the 1877 discoveries near Morrison, Colorado. 

The Morrison Formation is featured in above photograph.  The picture is looking west across the Felch Ranch.  The little red hill between the prominent buttes and the softer looking whitish rock on the slope below it are within the Morrison Formation.  The Cope Lucas excavation area is at the base of and between the two prominent buttes.  

America Takes Center Stage

For a little more background on the emergence of paleontology in America including intros to Professors Leidy, Marsh and Cope and how we arrived at this moment is provided here in a short story called America takes Center Stage.    

Touching a Dinosaur Bone 

I’ve given a fair amount of walking tours to explain the Marsh Felch and Cope Lucas Dinosaur Quarries.  I carry lots of pictures and sometimes bring along big rolled up quarry maps. When I do the Cope Lucas Quarries I bring a historic stereo-optic viewer to see a three dimensional picture of gigantic bones being excavated in 1878 on the spots where the photos were taken.  

Props are great but nothing comes close to bringing out a piece of real dinosaur bone and letting everyone touch it.Youngsters as little as about 5 or 6 have some sort of inherent way of detecting what is real and what is not. Touching real bone while standing in the location where it came from is probably their highlight.  It also seems to prompt a followup question about where the bones now and why did they leave and go to some far away museum.  Without some on site signs or going on a walking tour, one would hardly know a quarry was here. There are a few outstanding quarries that are where the animals died such as the great quarry at Dinosaur National Monument in Utah or the mammal quarry at Ashfall Fossil Beds State Park in Nebraska where the perfectly preserved skeletons can take your breath away.  

The Yale Peabody Museum:  Paleontology Collection

JoAnn and I finally had a chance to see where “our bones” that were collected in 1877 at the Marsh Felch Dinosaur Quarry went to.  We arrived at the Yale Peabody Museum in New Haven Connecticut on October 3, 2012 and met with museum specialist Dan Brinkman who provided wonderful assistance.  He took us into the curation area and showed us exactly where the bones from Canon City were.  He explained effective ways to look through them and take photographs.  The bones collected at that time were highly fractured or scrappy, had been collected, packed, shipped, and accessioned into their collection.  Somehow those scrappy bones were in good enough condition that paleontologists today still periodically look at them when doing research.  One such bone we saw in their collection demonstrates this issue nicely. 

American Museum of Natural History – NYC – May of 2011 – Big Bone Room

On the 10th of May 2011, I had a somewhat unique opportunity to take pictures in the Big Bone Room of the American Museum of Natural History.  These bones were not “scrappy” like what we saw later at Yale but impressive and large.  That is not because they were better cared for, but rather the fossilization conditions at both sites were different. 

These bones were collected from the Cope Lucas Dinosaur Quarry by Oramel Lucas beginning in the spring of 1877. The site is about a half mile north and west and maybe 300 feet above the Marsh Felch Dinosaur Quarry. Carl Mehling used the forklift to lift out individual pallets so I could take pictures of 18 pallets of bones.  Picture to the right is of a Camarasaurus supremus vertebrae, one of the bones on one of the pallets. 


Oramel Lucas

Oramel Lucas was living alone in a home in the hilly part of Berkeley, California in the early 1930’s. He was now in his 80’s and his health was starting to fail. His wife Hattie had died not long ago.  Oramel and Hattie lived in various place across the west coast including Pendleton and Oregon City in Oregon and Pacific Grove and Berkeley in California. Oramel worked in various ministerial capacities, but he had a special interest in Chinese and Japanese Americans. Oramel and Hattie’s son Arthur died back in 1890 at the age of two and at this moment he was sitting with his only surviving child, his daughter Ethyl.  

Oramel asked Ethyl to take notes and write down the story before he became a minister, even before he went to the theology seminary school at Oberlin College in Ohio, when he came west and discovered huge dinosaur bones.

Oramel Lucas came west in 1876 to make some money  teaching and work on geologic studies as recommended by his professor, Albert Wright back at Oberlin College.

Here, in his own words, is his story of what happened in the fall and winter of 1876/77 (Lucas, Oramel 1930).

At the end of my sophomore year in Oberlin College my financial condition was pretty low (minus!). I borrowed $50.00 for a trip to Colorado. Before starting I consulted Prof. A.A. Wright, Prof. of Geology as to the possibility of making up some study and what sort of study in geology I could work out myself. He said, “Quite impossible without class work.” I said, “I’m going to the Rocky Mountains.” He said, “By all means take up geology.” I had previously written to my father [David Lucas] to secure for me the village school in Canon City, if he could. One member of the school board had a friend he wanted to put into that position so father failed in getting that position for me.

By the time I had arrived home schools in neighborhood had most of them engaged teachers. The school in Garden Park, 9-10 miles north of Canon City, where my sister Lucy [Ripley] and her family lived was not engaged so they employed me for the six months school – a small school.

While engaged in teaching this school I occasionally went into the hills hunting deer. One day, toward night – one Saturday – a couple of miles from my boarding place I had shot at a deer. The deer ran off. I could find neither hide nor hair of him!

Disappointed, I wended my way back over the ridge to my sister’s where I spent the holidays. Passing over the ridge of hills homeward I picked up a piece of rock, about three inches long and as wide as my hand, the shape of a cross section of a fish. Upon examining it closely I found there were fine white streaks running lengthwise. I at once decided that it must be petrified bone instead of a fish.

Looking in the vicinity I noticed a little lump of dirt, 3 or 4 inches above the level of the ground. Taking a stick, I poked the dirt away and found a petrified bone 5 or 6 inches in diameter at the smallest place and 3 feet long. Greatly surprised, as I had never seen a petrified bone, I covered it up very carefully waiting for an opportunity to take it out.

My first opportunity, I dug it out and carried it down to my boarding place. I had to make two trips as it was more than I could carry in one load.

The next Saturday, I investigated the neighborhood, looking around in the vicinity, and came upon a bed of petrified bones with numerous pieces scattered around.

From this bed I eventually took out a femur bone 6 feet long and about 10 inches in diameter in the smallest place and a shoulder blade 5 ½ feet long and 3 feet wide at the widest place and quite a number of vertebrate, joints of the back and the tail and pieces of ribs.

Arthur Lakes – Bones of the Monsters

Oramel Lucas was not alone in finding large dinosaur bones. In many ways his story parallels the story of Arthur Lakes who found bones in the hogbacks near Morrison Colorado in the spring of 1877. On April 2nd 1877, he first wrote to the famous paleontology professor O.C. Marsh, looking for guidance and support.  Marsh was either not that interested, or busy on other paleontology matters and didn’t bother to write back. About three weeks later, Arthur Lakes wrote back again, and again no response. By early May, Lakes who was well educated, had figured out that the animal was 60-70 feet in length and put together a remarkable story published in the Colorado Springs Gazette entitled “Bones of the Monsters” (Lakes, Arthur 1877).

Lakes was a very colorful and interesting author who wrote about nature and Colorado. Arthur also maintained a close friendship with Reverend Charles Walker after they had both graduated in 1874 with divinity degrees together at Matthews Hall in Golden. Even though Lakes was living in the Morrison area, printing the article in Colorado Springs was relatively easy because he was down there when he was visiting Reverend Walker. (Simmons 2018)  

By early May Lakes had hauled out ten crates of bones before storing them in a shed.  A couple of weeks later he had gathered so many bones that he took it upon himself to ship almost a ton of them to Marsh even though Marsh had so far not expressed any interest. Arthur wanted to work with him but he needed to be paid, so he also took it upon himself to not only ship bones to Marsh, but simultaneously he shipped a smaller quantity to Professor Cope.  If Marsh wasn’t interested maybe he could work for Cope. It turned out that Cope was interested and immediately wrote back asking for more bones stating he would pay Lakes a monthly salary for his work. Not long after this exchange, Marsh finally wrote back not only expressing interest, but including money for Lakes to continue his work.  This sealed the deal as far as Lakes was concerned but Lakes had to confess that having not heard from him he had sent bones to Cope. (Jaffe 2000)

Image by Arthur Lakes. He who drew many similar drawings of ongoing paleontology work. O.C. Marsh (right) lunching near Robber’s Roost with his fossil collectors. Most images were of work in the Como Bluffs Wyoming dinosaur quarries, 1879.  Image courtesy Linda Hall Library, Scientist of the Day Blog, December 21, 2015. Original image stored at the Yale Peabody Museum in New Haven Connecticut. 

This Moment in Time

This is the moment when Marsh clearly understood the implications of what was before him. Cope was about to one up him, at least in regards to dinosaurs. Most paleontologists and historians describe this moment in time to be the single event that triggered the “dinosaur bone war” between the two scientists. The war was already well underway with other fossils but it was about to dramatically escalate. 

When Marsh found out that Cope was involved, he was all in. He let Lakes know what to do next; contact Cope and instruct him to forward all the bones that Lake’s had first sent to Cope to Marsh which Lakes did.  Cope obliged but now he had a good idea of what Marsh was receiving.  

Marsh made one more request to Lakes; do not to publish anything about the discovery. When Lakes heard this request he explained he couldn’t comply. The article describing discoveries of large bones had already been published in the Colorado Springs Gazette. 

Marsh then instructed Professor Mudge, a paid fossil excavator working in western Kansas, to immediately head to Morrison and take charge of the work. 

A $3.00 Souvenir

David Baldwin was a paid fossil excavator working for Professor Marsh, who happened to be living in Canon City in the winter of 1876-77 because it had particularly good weather in the winter, at least for this part of the world. At the time the Canon City area was not known for the types of mammal, bird, or lizard fossils that Marsh had so much interest in.  He was actually planning to dig fossils in northern New Mexico the next season but he must have taken notice of the January newspaper report describing the very large bone Charles and Marshall Felch had found(Charles Felch 1914). In early February of 1877, at the very end of a letter to Professor Marsh, he shared that there had been some local fossil discoveries;  “there are bones of large animals in the Jura near here” (Baldwin, David 1877).  In the same manner that Marsh had not responded to Arthur Lakes, Marsh didn’t pay attention to what he was reading or possibly not that interested as he did not comment on this rather important statement.  

Before Baldwin headed south, he learned of a small fossil for sale in a curio shop in Colorado Springs. He knew enough to know that Professor Marsh was intensely interested the evolution of birds and he suspected this fossil might be a bird.  The specimen had actually been collected earlier by a John Jennings of Canon City and a S.C. Robinson of Colorado Springs. Baldwin contacted Marsh letting him know about this fossil and Marsh, in turn, instructed him to purchase it which he did for $3.00. Baldwin sent the fossil by express with it arriving at the Yale Peabody Museum on May 8, 1877 where it was accessioned into their collections. A few months later Marsh described the specimen as a “very small dinosaur” which he designated Nanosaurus victor (Marsh 1877).   He later renamed it Hallopus victor but kept it in the dinosaur family while recognizing there was something distinctly different about it. (Ague, Carpenter, and Ostrom 1995)

Nanosaurus victor (AKA Hallopus victor)

The specimen Baldwin first bought at a curio shop remained a dinosaur until 1970 when it was identified as a primitive crododilomorph with a new name, Hallopus victor (Walker 1970).

For arguments sake, let’s call it a relatively small, land dwelling, long legged, fairly agile animal that was somewhat in the highly diverse crocodile family, as it existed in the the latter part of the Jurassic Period.

Based provided a very good description of where the specimen was collected yet when Marsh published on the specimen in 1877 he did not provide a clear description of where this specimen came from.  This may have been because the specimen had been collected from the location that was clearly under Lucas’s control.  It wasn’t until the mid-1990’s that Ague, Carpenter, and Ostrom firmed up where this specimen originated. Their analysis was based on both a detailed historic review of Baldwin’s description in combination with forensic techniques.  The specimen was collected near a small red hill located in the very same area where Oramel Lucas starting finding large dinosaur bones in the spring of 1877 (Ague, Carpenter, and Ostrom 1995). The hill today is known locally and in paleontology circles as Cope’s Nipple. 

Hallopus victor, YPM 1914, in all its “incomplete but leggy glory” by Jaime A. Headden.  Artwork is from the blog “Better Know a [Crocbeak] – Macelognathus and Hallopus” 

An Iguanodon?

At the time Oramel made his discovery, only three dinosaurs were known, Megalosaurus, Iguanodon, and Hylaeosaurus were based on discoveries in the early part of the eighteenth century in England. All three were distinct enough that they established a framework for a new group of animals they begin calling dinosaurs but, based on the limited amount of fossil bones discovered, they were poorly understood.  The English geologist Gideon Mantell discovered large teeth of an animal that looked like the much smaller teeth of a modern Iguana.  In a few years after intense investigation he would name it an Iguanodon. 

In 1858, a forth well known dinosaur discovery happened in western New Jersey.  It was a fairly large, bipedal, and plant eating dinosaur later named Hadrosaurus. 

Dinosaurs were only a small part of the fossil record by the end of 1876.  The large long-neck, long-tail dinosaurs and the large meat-eating dinosaurs that we’re familiar with today were still on the horizon. Oramel had very little to compare what he was finding with what he was seeing. Its no wonder that he suspected he had found an unusually large Iguanodon.  He wrote to Professor Wright on April 6, 1877 stating: “from size and shape of these fossils I think them to be the remains of Iguanodon from 50 to 60 feet in length” (Lucas, Oramel 1877a).  

The image above is of an Iguanodon as they were presented in 1852 in the Crystal Palace Park display in London .  Picture by Ian Wright available in Wiki-commons

Oramel reiterated his thoughts in a June 14, 1877 Canon City newspaper report stating that he had discovered an Iguanodon; 

“the fossil remains of a carnivorous and herbivorous giant … of the Iguanodon, a reptile of the Cretaceous period that had somewhat the habits of the Hippopotamus. In shape, the Iguanodon, resembles a Kangaroo in the body, having a serpent-like head with flat serrated teeth, the tail being very long. It is estimated that this fossil is that of an animal at least sixty feet in length, and eighteen feet high.(Lucas, Oramel 1877b)

The reporter concluded the article by stating:

The remains now gathered make five wagon loads. Next week we will devote more space to this mammoth fossil and try to describe it more fully, in the meantime it will be on exhibition at the museum of Mr. Eugene Weston on Main Street.(Lucas, Oramel 1877c)

Oramel’s Inquisitive Nature

Oramel wrote a letter to the paper as promised that was printed on June 21, 1877.  He listed out geologically where and when the dinosaur lived;

the Jurassic formationthis being the middle period of the Mesozoic time, or Reptilian age…characterized by the existence of great reptiles among which the Saurians or Lizards were most prominent” (Lucas, Oramel 1877c).  

Oramel was thinking deeply about the different bones he was seeing and took his work seriously, picking up publications by Hayden and Dana(Lucas, Oramel 1877).  Most likely he picked up the 1875 edition of Professor James Dwight Dana’s manual of geology that was widely in use as a standard geologic text book.  He also had at least one of the Ferdinand Hayden’s U.S. Geologic and Geographical annual reports pertaining to Colorado, probably the 1875 progress report that had just been published.

Oramel noticed the hollowness of the bones, looked closely at the pelvis, commented on the lengths of the front versus the rear legs, and took special notice of the feet.  Every animal has a framework of bones and each bone can tell a lot about the animal. He was so curious that he even dissected a common swift and a small lizard to see how the bones compared with what he was seeing. He not only described the length and shape of bones but the skeleton as a whole. He even analyzed how the bones were all connected. 

Based on the size of the bones he was seeing, he compared them to the only possible comparable dinosaur at the time; an Iguanodon.  He estimated that the animal was between 63 and 65 feet in length, a surprisingly good guess, but it certainly was not an Iguanodon.  He even went on to discuss what sort of place the dinosaur lived and what it ate. 

it was an herbivorous animal, standing high above the ground biped-like, being able to lift itself on its hind legs for the purpose of cropping branches of trees, or at other times as a quadruped grazing upon the luxuriant sedges and reeds, low types of which; if any exist at the present time. Along the borders of marshes, estuaries or streams in or about which it lived.”(Lucas, Oramel 1877c)

A Mining Claim

When Oramel was narrating his story to his daughter Ethyl, he recalled an incident that took place where he found the dinosaurs;

“I made a camp at the foot of the hill near the creek. I had a tent. First camp by creek meant coming down hill to the creek for water. After, changed camp had to carry water about a quarter of mile uphill. The main reason I changed camp was that a man named Weston built a little shack, out of sight under a hill where I was working, where no one would see it, but on the corner of the quarter section where I was working. He went down to Pueblo and filed on it. At the time I had dug out quite a number of bones, Weston came to see me and offered to sell part of his claim. So, I went to a Canon City lawyer who said that Weston bad forfeited his claim by offering to sell before he had proved up on it. So Weston gave up his claim. So I filed a claim and lived on it.”(Lucas, Oramel 1930)

Oramel Lucas and Eugene Weston must have struck out a resolution to these difficulties considering the bones Oramel collected were now on display in Eugene’s shop. 

Someone Well Versed in Paleontology

Oramel was well educated and that obviously helped him understand his own limitations. The last line of his June 21, 1877 newspaper article read;

I propose soon to send portions east to someone thoroughly versed in paleontologic science, that if possible, positive knowledge of species and name may be had”(Lucas, Oramel 1877c).

Benjamin Mudge

Benjamin Mudge grew up well educated in Connecticut. He went on to graduate with a master of arts and then practice law for many years but he always maintained a strong interest in the natural environment.  He loved building collections from the seashore and the natural world around him.

When the great war broke out he relocated to Kansas where his interest and skill in the natural world only escalated. Mudge was very intelligent, well spoken, and within a relatively short time he became a great and very popular lecturer.  He was named the first state geologist of Kansas and in 1865 and then became the chair of the Kansas Agricultural College (Kansas State).  He was simultaneously building a collection of fossils that included the amazing discovery of Ichthyornis, the bird with teeth in 1870.  By 1873 he was working primarily in western Kansas working as a paid fossil excavator for Professor Marsh of Yale. When Arthur Lakes discovered dinosaurs in early 1877, the professor found himself being directed by Marsh to head west to Colorado and oversee the work of Arthur Lakes at the quarries near Morrison.(Parker, John D. 1881)

Snooping Around

By August, Mudge and Lakes had sent enough material to Professor Marsh that he was able to give initial notice to the world that a new gigantic long necked and long tailed dinosaur had been discovered. It was first called Titanosaurus montenus and later renamed Atlantosaurus montenus

On August 4, 1877, Mudge got wind of a Cope man snooping around the Denver area, inquiring about bones down in Canon City.  Mudge wrote to Prof. Marsh stating,

I learned last evening that Cope had a friend in Denver, who was making inquiries about the Canyon City fossils; apparently with the idea of sending someone there for them; and to collect more”. (Mudge, Benjamin F. 1877).

By the 9th of August, Mudge received a telegram from Marsh telling someone to go down and see what was going on in Canon City. Mudge immediately responded that Lakes was out of town and he would go himself.  

By Lamplight

Professor Mudge arrived the next day in Colorado Springs where he had a layover and had time to check out a local curiosity shop.  He learned that they had information about the fossil locations in Canon City and may have been the same shop that Baldwin purchased what he thought were bird fossils.

He spent the night and arrived about sunset on Saturday night the next day in Canon City. He wrote to Professor Marsh the next morning stating that when he arrived on that Saturday night he immediately;

lost no time in looking at the bones…I only saw the bones by lamplight [is] poor at that, and the man in charge did not appear willing to visit his store today – Sunday – nor didn’t appear to have too strong an interest in the matter.” (Mudge, Benjamin F. 1877)

Based on the June 14, 1877 newspaper report, the place Mudge visited was Weston’s Curio Shop. The owner of the building was Eugene Weston and the man in charge of the business.  The majority of Oramal’s dinosaur bones must have been stored in the back. 

Bigger than our Titanosaurus

When Professor Mudge took a look at the bones by lamplight that Saturday night, he had a fairly good idea of what he was seeing after working with Arthur Lakes excavating large bones up at Morrison. He wrote to Professor Marsh the next day on the 12th of August describing the bones to be something in the dinosaur family and somewhat like Titanosaurus montenus that Mudge and Lakes discovered.   Mudge could tell it was something large like the Titanosaurus, but it was also distinctly different in many ways and much larger.(Marsh 1877a)

Titanosaurus montenus

The name Titanosaurus was already in use so it was changed next to Atlantosaurus montenus.  Without going into a long discussion, think of it more like Brontosaurus or its alternative name Apatosaurus. Regardless of the name, they were beginning to understand that it was a very large animal with a long neck and long tail that walked on four legs. Today we don’t give it a second thought,  but at the time nothing like this was known. 

Could Oramel be Persuaded? 

Mudge had developed a good eye for noticing distinct features in the shapes of various bones, something vertebrate paleontologists are well skilled at.  He noticed similarities and differences between the bones he had seen before and had an excellent background to grasp what he was now seeing in Weston’s curio shop.  One obvious difference was that these bones were larger. One bone he described in the August 12th letter as “one quarter larger”  while he simultaneously described the overall skeleton to be “10 to 30 percent bigger”.  He considered the skeleton to be well represented by bones of all parts including the legs, pelvis, shoulder, etc. with the exception of the head at least from what he could see.

He also observed that some of the bones had already been sent to Professor Cope and some were being packed and ready to ship. Mudge would need to do what he could to persuade Lucas to work with Marsh knowing that like everything else in the fossil world, Marsh wanted it all. Upon receiving Mudge’s letter, Marsh fired off a telegram on August 18 to Mudge to purchase the specimen.  By then it was too late,  Cope had already responded and had an understanding and agreement with Lucas in place.  Lucas was not going to break it. 

He Missed the Boat

Mudge was aware that David Baldwin had been here in Canon City.  He expressed dismay to Marsh in his letter of August the 12th stating that Baldwin had not secured the area where the bones, including the Hallopus fossil were coming from.  He continued; “I exceedingly regret that Baldwin did not secure them for you, as he might when there were first discovered”(Mudge, Benjamin F. 1877a). This disgust was obviously conveyed by letter from Professor Marsh to David Baldwin who in turn responded on September 16, 1877 writing;

…I did not suppose that you cared anything about them as I had written to you and that there were more large bones in the Jura near Canon and received no notice whatever from you. I spent two or three weeks in looking around spotting localities hoping you would write and let me know that you wanted some from the Jura but hearing nothing from you I quit… (Baldwin, David 1877b)

The lack of response from Marsh to Arthur lakes is well noted.  Here in Canon City it becomes clear that he further failed to respond to both Oramel Lucas and David Baldwin as well. 

A Little Kindness

Mudge continued to dialogue with and look for any arrangements that could be made to secure Oramel’s help. As they became acquainted, Mudge was aware that Lucas wanted to continue his education at Oberlin and that he was short on money.  Mudge wrote to Marsh on the 15th of August stating:  “we can secure his good will in the future by a little kindness and good treatment.  He is a young man trying to obtain an education. 

Mudge asked Oramel how much Cope was paying him, noting in his letter to Marsh he feels that he has sold his big bones too cheap to Cope”. (Mudge, Benjamin F. 1877a)

On August the 23rd, Mudge wrote to Marsh stating he was down to his last five cents and in need of money that had been promised. Its doubtful he would have told Lucas that Marsh was notoriously slow in paying his workers and often shorted them what they were expecting. 

A Small Plant Eating Dinosaur

The bird fossil Oramel Lucas collected and gave to Professor Mudge was sent to Marsh who identified it as Nanosaurus agilis in 1877. Four years later it was identified as an ornithischian or “bird hipped” dinosaur. This dinosaur would weigh only a few pounds, it was an herbivore, and walked on two legs. A beautifully illustrated and detailed analysis of small plant eating dinosaurs like this was completed in 2018 (Carpenter, Kenneth and Galton, P.M. 2018)

Small plant eating dinosaurs that were particularly abundant in the late Jurassic must have been very fast runners when pursued.  

Oramel made that clear to Prof. Mudge that he was honest in his dealings, and regardless of what he was selling the bones for he had an agreement with Cope, and that he would abide by his contract. Mudge noticed though that Oramel described what he was selling to Cope as big bones so Mudge asked whether or not the contract included the small bones.  Oramel gave some thought to this and with some obvious encouragement from Mudge decided that it didn’t.  Oramel must have figured that all the excitement seemed to be about gigantic dinosaurs. Mudge continued in his August 15th letter to Marsh that Oramel had agreed to sell some small bones;  

 bones which look to me like birds… He has agreed to send it to you, and we have just packed it for express.  Whatever it is he will sell it when you have decided what it is; and whether it is a bird or not.  At any rate it looks to me to be new, and valuable… This specimen is from the sandstone about ten feet above the big saurian he is now taking out and in the same geological horizon as our Morrison specimens. I shall look over the ground for more fragments.”  (Mudge, Benjamin F. 1877)

Marshall, The Wagon Driver

Marshall and Amanda Felch were one of a handful of ranching families living in Garden Park. Their ranch was also the one closest to all the sites where bones, including Oramel’s,  were being discovered. 

Marshall was an experienced wagon driver and knew the area like the back of his hand.  In Benjamin Mudge’s letter of August 12, he mentioned to Marsh;

I have not been able to obtain a team today, but have engaged one, with a man who says he knows other localities of bones, to go tomorrow.  I shall stay, at least – long enough to see what the locality will [produce], I will again after the visit to the locality which may require two days. (Mudge, Benjamin F. 1877a)  

 Mudge, of course, was referring to Marshall Felch. Two days later on the 14th, Mudge wrote;

I came out here yesterday and have been prospecting.  I have found fragments of bones in half a dozen places from a few rods to two dozen miles distant from the specimens now being taken out by Mr. Lucas for CopeI have engaged [boarded] for a week with Mr. Felch.”(Mudge, Benjamin F. 1877a)

Professor Mudge and Samuel Williston will refer to Marshall Felch by name on several occasions over the next few weeks as the person working with them on the excavation. We will learn that Professor Mudge was contracting with Marshall for three things;

  • guidance on fossil bone in the area
  • boarding at Amanda and Marshall’s ranch (room and probably two maybe three meals a day)
  • utilizing his help at the quarry 

Boarding with the Family

Boarding guests produced needed income and was a way of life for Amanda and the Felch family. As a boarder, Professor Mudge would be living in a vacant (or partially vacant) room in the second “sleeping” cabin. In such a small intimate setting it seems logical that Mudge, like other guests wasn’t just a hotel guest, but a part of the family. Amanda Felch would likely prepare breakfast and dinner and probably send a lunch with Marshall and the professor on their daily adventures.   Sarah was now 10, Ned was 8 and Emerson was 7. School was underway in the daytime but after school it would have been only a few minute walk for Sarah, Ned, and Emerson Webster to see what their father and the professor were up to. 

After the chores were all done, evenings were probably consumed with reading and talking about the day’s activities.  Sarah grew up loving horses and the book Black Beauty by the English author Anna Sewell had just been published. Reading aloud a book like that might have been a special treat for Sarah.  Amanda liked to tell Civil War stories which were both grim and fascinating. Benjamin Mudge was a fascinating story teller himself and perhaps shared stories of some of the fossil excavations while in Kansas such as a bird with teeth he called Ichthyornis dispar or maybe about growing up near the coastline in New England where he loved nature and collected rocks and seashells.  He might also have expressed excitement about the upcoming reunion at Kansas Agricultural College. 

500 Pounds of Bones

Mudge fully understood that he could not likely sway Oramel Lucas to switch sides. He and Marshall looked in several locations but started working at a location that Marshall had shown him.  Mudge understood that Marsh wanted a presence in the area.  They started working at a spot not far from the ranch that was exposed along a ledge with a vertical drop-off below.  

On the 19th of August, Professor Mudge wrote to Marsh;

In the afternoon, I found that one of my specimens will prove better than I expected.  I have already taken out six bones worthy of saving, and the spot appears to contain many more.” (Mudge, Benjamin F. 1877)

By the 31st of August Professor Mudge and Marshal sent east 500 pounds of fossil bones on the train with scarcely any rock. Mudge noted that the bones were in a crumbling condition but some sufficiently solid to have some good parts preserved. (Mudge, Benjamin F. 1877a)

Along the Edge of a Cliff 

The location that Professor Mudge and Civil War Hospital Steward Marshall Felch started working at, in September of 1877, is shown in the picture to the right where the arrow is pointing. There is about a 70 foot drop off next to where the excavation began. They accessed the site along a trail visible along the edge of the cliff in the right foreground.  Oramel Lucas’s quarry area was near the base of butte in the distance.  The picture was taken using a drone flown by Chris Grenard on February 16, 2016. It was enhanced in photoshop to bring out color.   


Sarah collected many specimens of agates and other things. By the time she was 17 she had a collection covering a sideboard that was about eight feet long.  She was even  offered a year’s worth of school at a ladies school for this collection and she estimated its value to be about $300. She liked to explore and was always showing people the marble cave located a few miles north of her home. (Douglass, Earl 1926)

In future years she provided sketches of bones and was a part of the work in the quarry. She would be the only family member to ever go to the Yale Peabody Museum in New Haven Connecticut where Professor Marsh would give her a personal tour.  

On July 21, 1926 Sarah came to Salt Lake City both to visit her daughter and to meet with Earl Douglass at the University of Utah, the well known dinosaur excavator who had developed the great quarry at Dinosaur National Monument.  Sarah Felch and Earl Douglass already met once in 1925 and she knew he was working on a dinosaur skeleton for the University. She was there to give him the letters that Professor Marsh had written to her father Marshall thinking they might be helpful to him with this new project.  He graciously accepted them and later placed them into the University archives.  During their meeting she told him some of the stories she remembered about the dinosaur discoveries. He took notes and wrote down that she said that she was “the first to discover what would come to be known as the Marsh Dinosaur Quarry”. (Douglass, Earl 1926).  

Sarah Felch loved the outdoors and future Marsh Felch Dinosaur Quarry would have been easy for her to visit after school or on weekends.  Young students often have a good eye for fossils and she must have seen something that looked like fossil bones peaking out of the rock, something she told her father Marshall about.

There is no doubt in the mind of this author that Sarah was the first to find fossils at the Marsh Felch Dinosaur Quarry.  

A Bird in the Hand

On the 6th of September Professor Mudge wrote to Marsh;

“I wish Williston were here.  He could assist on this delicate work to great advantage and make an artistic drawing of some bones which I cannot preserve. It appears as if a months’ time would be required on this spot without going to the other place where I proposed to put in a blast.” (Mudge, Benjamin F. 1877b)

About thirty years after working in Canon City, Samuel Williston recalled; “I was sent to Cañon City to help Professor Mudge, my old teacher, and Mr. Felch, who had begun work there in the famous ‘Marsh Quarry.’” (Williston, Samuel 1915)

On Friday the 21st, Samuel Williston wrote to Professor Marsh letting him know that he had arrived three days earlier and had taken a look around at the area including the quarry Mudge and Felch were working.  Initially, he wasn’t pleased with what he was seeing;

“I am very sorry to find that Cope is getting by far the best lot of fossils…the bones are well preserved and many of them entire.  Where we are at work …the bones…are so extremely friable and broken that it seems almost useless to ship them… Prof Mudge thinks we had better work out these than use time in the risk of not finding better”.

In the same letter he’s trying to understand how to excavate the bones safely as he is seeing what appear to be something different;

may we glue together fragments when it will save you time in hunting them out thereI think here must be a number of new species of those dinosaurs if we can only get good bones.

The small party continued digging out the “bird in the hand,” finding the bones better as they went deeper due to less weathering.(Williston, Samuel 1877)

Samuel Williston

Samuel grew up poor in eastern Kansas but with the encouragement of his mother, he started reading by an early age and was soon devouring a number of books. At the age of seven when he began finding clams at the top of a hill near his home and developed a keen interest in fossils. One of his early chores was catching and cleaning fish not a lot of fun for most but it gave him the opportunity to look closely at their skeletons.

When he was older, he began attending Blue Mont College (later emerged into the Kansas Agricultural College) which is where he began course work under Professor Mudge.  He studied everything from chemistry, botany, and geology to surveying and calculus.  He went on to work for the railroad as an engineer but returned back to college and obtained a bachelor of science degree in 1872.   He then worked under a doctor and studied medicine where he became particularly proficient at osteology, or the study of bones.

In 1873, Professor Mudge changed careers and began collecting fossils for Professor Marsh. Soon he was in need of assistance. One of his requests was for the standout student Samuel Williston who agreed. This became a life changing experience. He began a scientific career in 1874 that included but was not limited paleontology. (Lull and National Academy of Sciences, 1924)

In 1876, Professor Mudge and his team including Samuel were instructed to find more bones of the toothed birds, and to also look for what they called saurians (Mosasaurs and Plesiosaurs) along with Pterodactyls, and Crinoids. They were working in the Monument Rocks area, west of modern-day Oakley, and near the Monument train station in western Kansas.

Field Work 

Williston was well versed in fossil excavation by 1877. Earlier he described the basics of what field work in Kansas;

Items needed for the months of work were a heavy wagon and team of horses, with a driver who usually doubled as cook, plus a tent and riding ponies for the collectors. Food supplies were mainly flour, bacon, salt, and beans; the abundant antelope provided most of the fresh meat. Bison, seen by Cope and Marsh by the thousands in 1871 in Kansas, were completely gone by 1876, and their bones lay in heaps along the rail lines. Flour sacks and cigar boxes were carried for fossil containers. Heavy specimens were crated, wrapped in straw or buffalo grass.

In the field the collectors set up camp at some source of not-too-alkaline water, fairly near a railroad station, and worked out from there to explore for fossils. They generally stayed two to four weeks in the same location, sending one member of the party to the station about once a week for mail and to ship specimens. (Shor, Elizabeth Noble 1971)

A portion of a humorous sketch from Shor’s publication by Samuel is shown below indicating that the flies and insects in camp were pretty much in charge of their field work. 

A Skilled Paleontologist

Professor Marsh, at the urging of Professor Mudge, asked Samuel Williston to come to New Haven in the winter of ’76 for additional training. He accepted of course, and went back east to New Haven taking up residence and working for Professor Marsh. He returned to Kansas on March 9, 1877 as a substantially more well-rounded paleontologist with greater confidence and a favorite of Professor Marsh.

In 1877, the Marsh team including Samuel working primarily in the Monument Rocks and Russel Springs areas of Western Kansas. They had a very successful season collecting birds with teeth, Pterodactyls, Saurians, and turtles finishing up their work for the season in mid-September (or so Williston thought).

Secret Code

Professor Marsh was always deeply worried about secrecy in all the areas where he had excavators. He did not want any of Cope’s party to know where his team was working and especially what they were finding. Williston was aware that one of Cope’s excavators named Charles Sternberg had a brother who worked at a telegraph station. On the 22nd of April, 1877, Williston sent a telegraph to Marsh that read “Send hundred ammunition health poor B Jones  going south” which meant “Send $100 collecting poor, Cope going south”.(Jaffe 2000)

Sternberg and Williston

Professor Mudge had two outstanding students at the Kansas Agricultural College, Samuel Williston and Charles Sternberg. They both wanted to work for Professor Mudge. Sternberg was not hired, Williston was. By 1876 Charles Sternberg who needed money and loved field work was working for Professor Cope.

By a remarkably strange coincidence Williston and Sternberg found themselves riding together on a train headed west out of Kansas about the 15th of August. They were both heading to Denver but beyond that, it was anybodies guess.  

Charles Sternberg

Charles Sternberg was working in western Kansas for most of 1877 and his team was having an excellent year in what they called the Kansas chalk as well as the Loup Fork area in northwestern Kansas.  Overall they were in the same general area Williston and Mudge were working. The Marsh and Cope teams never ever shared useful information with each other and everything they did was in secrecy. 

Charles Sternberg received an interesting letter in late August of 1877 from Professor Cope;

Turn over all the outfit to Mr. Hill…and go at once to a new field discovered in the desert of eastern Oregon…Go to Fort Klamath, Oregon, and from there to Silver Lake, to a man by the name of Duncan, the post- master. He will guide you to the fossil bed in the heart of the sage-brush desert…You are to go secretly; tell no one where you are going. Have your mail sent by a circuitous route, so you cannot be traced.“(Sternberg 1909)

For Sternberg, these orders came with both great excitement, but also consternation, as this was a major expedition and he was leaving his family behind. Never the less he followed orders, packaging up the fossils that had been collected and prepared them for shipment to Professor Cope’s home in Philadelphia.

He then headed home to “bade my loved ones good-by for an indefinite time” and returned to the train station at Buffalo Park with provisions to head west to “fresh fields and pastures new” … He concluded “that even if someone should find out where I was going and try to follow me I could easily give him the slip and get to the field first.” (Sternberg 1909)

The Advantage of False Teeth

Charles Sternberg boarded the train in the morning at Buffalo Park station. Charles Sternberg was already on the train heading west when the train stopped at Monument station. Getting on the train most unexpectedly was a fellow student of Professor Mudge’s at the Kansas Agricultural College, Samuel Williston, whom Sternberg knew well.  He later wrote; Williston did not know at first that I was on the train, and when he entered my car, he was greatly astonished, thinking that I was on his trail (Sternberg 1909).  

In an interesting twist they decided to not only share the ride, but to spend the evening together in Denver where they dined out and even stayed at the same hotel.  They never, of course, told each other where they were going but instead shared stories about some of their past adventures without giving away any trade secrets. Charles shared that he had very much wanted to work for Professor Mudge but he could not afford any more assistants. He therefore contacted Cope who hired him based on a letter he wrote. 

Sternberg undoubtedly described the most amazing adventure he had the previous fall going with Professor Cope into the very remote and rugged Judith River badlands of Montana.  Some of the trials and tribulations of that expedition including the time the wagon and horses rolled  down a hillside three times before landing upright on a steep slope. Although horse, wagon, and cargo were badly battered, everything survived.  He may have also told the story of the time Cope invited a group of Indigenous Americans into his camp and in the process, pulled out his false teeth which was of great interest and amusement. It turned a somewhat quiet conversation into a moment of fun. 

This must have brought a hardy laugh from Williston who was able to tell a similar tale about the time in 1875 when a group of Apaches approached their camp on horses and then repeatably asked for “tobac” or tobacco. Professor Mudge rode up at that moment and his repeated attempts to say he didn’t have any tobacco weren’t getting through.  In frustration, Professor Mudge finally pulled out his false teeth to demonstrate he didn’t use tobacco initiating utter amazement and taking the edge off what was previously an intense moment, at least for Williston.

Its probable that in addition to their field adventures,  both young men described their experiences the previous winter when Williston took up residence on the campus of Yale working directly for Professor Marsh while Sternberg took up residence at the house of Professor Cope in Philadelphia always dining with the Cope family on Sundays. Williston when hearing this probably described his trip to Philadelphia in the fall of 1876 where he would have visited the Centennial Exposition taking in all the scientific and paleontology exhibits. Considering that it was right next door to where Cope lived, Charles must have attended, maybe on multiple occasions. 

Both men were in a field that they loved and both would go on to have highly successful careers. All in all, even though they were working for intense competitors who pretty much hated each other,  Williston and Sternberg  would consider each other to be friends and even allies in the future.  

When they departed the next day, Williston went south to Canon City where there was a highly fractured, but beautifully complete dinosaur skeleton, was waiting to be removed. Sternberg went much further west, then north to the badlands in eastern Oregon. He would have an adventure that in many ways would rival his trip to the Judith River with Cope, one where survival was in question more than once. 

The sketch below of the Buffalo Park Railroad Station is from Williston’s biography by Elizabeth Shore (Shor, Elizabeth Noble 1971). Having visited the same station numerous times, Samuel Williston made this sketch in 1877.

Most Unusual Tail Bones

Over the next few weeks, thirty-five crates of dinosaur bones were shipped and several smaller parcels sent by express mail to New Haven, Connecticut. Williston asked Professor Marsh not to open one package that contained most unusual caudal vertebrae (tail bones) featuring strange chevron bones (underside of the vertebrate). 

In November, Williston returned to New Haven and opened the very package he had earlier shipped.  It was these bones that enabled Marsh to establish a new dinosaur, Diplodocus longus (Diplodocus carnegii) that had a seriously long tail among other features. (McIntosh and Carpenter 1998)

Marsh and Williston also found some bones of a large meat eating dinosaur Marsh named Allosaurus fragilis along with a small bipedal plant eating dinosaur he initially named Nanosaurus rex but was later renamed Othnelia rex (for Othniel Marsh). 

Drawing above modified from picture of caudal (tail) vertebrae of Diplodocus carnegii on display at the British Museum of Natural History in London.  The “double beam” chevron bones on the bottom are the basis for the name of this dinosaur.  The name Diplodocus comes from the Greek words “diplos,” meaning “double,” and “dokos” meaning “beam.”

The image above is modified from figure one in the Diplodocus longus publication by McIntosh and Carpenter (McIntosh and Carpenter 1998). They modified it from an image drawn by Samuel Williston that was included in a letter he wrote to Marsh on September 26, 1877.   


Forty years after being out west digging dinosaurs and while serving as the Professor of Paleontology at the University of Chicago, Williston recalled; 

“The hind leg, pelvis and much of the tail of this specimen lay in very orderly arrangement in the sandstone near the edge of the quarry, … I did observe that the caudal vertebrae had very peculiar chevrons, unlike others that I had seen, and so I attempted to save some samples of them by pasting them up with thick layers of paper… Later, when I reached New Haven, I took off the paper and called Professor Marsh’s attention to the strange chevrons. And Diplodocus was the result.” (Williston, Samuel 1915)

Over the Edge

Bone hunters such as Professor Mudge, Samuel Williston, and many others developed techniques to collect bones so they could be packed, shipped, and arrive in good enough condition that a museum preparator could in turn, clean them up and make them presentable for analysis by Professor Marsh. A variety of glues, such as water glass, and hardeners such as shellac were developed over time to toughen up the bones but when Mudge and Williston arrived they were not prepared for anything this difficult.   

Mudge and Williston decided that the goal, based on Marsh’s desire to win the “species naming game” was to obtain enough material that Professor Marsh could identify something new. They decided they didn’t necessarily need two similar looking vertebrate, just one good one.  A large amount of good bone was collected but in what would be considered sacrilege today but made sense at the time. A fair amount of highly fractured bone was thrown over the edge of the cliff. 

The image above shows a real example of an early historic bandaging technique using a paste material on top of burlap.  This photograph was kindly provided by Dan Brinkman, a museum specialist at the Yale Peabody Museum in 2017.  Other early techniques such as placing a “splint” around broken bones and wrapping with just paper and tied with string were also used. 

Mending a Broken Bone Recipe

Mudge, Williston, and Felch needed a way to preserve as much as possible utilizing what they could find at hand for assistance.  The solution that was developed is an important step forward in paleontology.  The credit for the new technology generally is given to Samuel Williston because he wrote about the technique in his September 21, 1877 letter; “Will it do to paste strips of strong paper fractured hones before removing? . . . These strips are put on with ordinary flour-paste and can be removed I think easily.” (Schuchert and LeVene 1940)

Charles Schuchert, who was interviewing Professor Marsh late in his life, wrote; “He  was fascinated by this resurrection of ancient bones and their preservation in all their structural glory for the edification of paleontologists.”  When Schuchert was interviewing Marsh about this technology, Marsh alone took credit for the technique describing what he had seen doctors doing with broken bones. Even though Schuchert greatly admired Marsh, he knew him well enough that he later wrote the technique was based on the work Williston was doing at the time in Canon City. (Schuchert and LeVene 1940)

In actuality, several paleontologists began figuring out the solution to the fractured bone dilemma in those same general time frames but Williston was the first one to put it down in writing.  He gets the credit but maybe not all.  Perhaps there is an alternative that has not been considered.  It wasn’t just Professor Mudge staying at the Felch Ranch, Samuel would have stayed there also.  In 1926 Sarah testified to Earl Douglass that “Williston taught her how to shoot and I became an expert“. (Douglass, Earl 1926). They were all living together at the ranch. 

Marshall and Professor Mudge were certainly discussing the problem of fractured bone well before Williston arrived. It was probably discussed at the ranch in the evening around supper time so when Williston arrived, the topic only intensified.

Although Amanda and Marshall witnessed far more amputations than mending broken bones, they certainly saw their fare share and perhaps assisted in doing some of that work. Amanda was outstandingly good problem solver, well noted in her Civil War legacy, there was nothing special about this one. The, what I’m calling the “mending a broken bone recipe” was flour for paste and old newspaper. Credit is probably due to everyone there at the dinner table but if we have to give credit to only one person, in my book would be Amanda.     

A Geology Map

The material collected at the Marsh Felch Quarry was shipped to New Haven where it was prepared and analyzed. The story of the Diplodocus which was the majority of fossils found is beautifully told in the 1998 journal publication “The Holotype of Diplodocus longus” by Ken Carpenter and John McIntosh.(McIntosh and Carpenter 1998)

By mid October of 1877 Samuel Williston and Benjamin Mudge had decided to move on.  Mudge headed back to his college reunion in Manhattan Kansas while Samuel went up to Morrison Colorado to work with Arthur Lakes for a short term before being sent on to Como Bluffs.  It is while Sam is staying in Morrison that he writes a summary about the Canon City area and that summary included both a map and a cross section. 

Although they moved on from Canon City leaving the quarry behind,  Marshall had about two months of solid introduction to paleontology and geology.  Undoubtedly, the rest of the family including young Sarah did as well. Marshall apparently soaked up the knowledge and maintained correspondence with Professor Marsh who even came to see Marshall and the quarry in three years.  Marshall would be the person who will reopen the quarry if Professor Marsh came across additional funding. .  

“Not being able to go on with the quarry at Canon without blasting I spent a week in exploring the whole basin—finding several localities that promise well that had escaped Lucas… The basin containing sedimentary rocks is six miles wide and extending 12 miles north of Canon… The formation [Morrison Formation] is over three hundred feet in thickness to characteristic (there and here) capping sandstone stratum. I found fossils nearly ten miles apart and the whole region contains them… I certainly think that the fossils will  turn up almost anywhere between here and Canon City “(Williston, Samuel 1877)

A Cross Section 

If you look closely just above the center of the map at the map you will see a small cross about where Felch Creek and Oil Creek merge (later called Four Mile Creek). A word which is believed to be “Cottage Rock” is located just above this cross. A horizontal line at this point across the map depicts where Samuel drew a cross section of the landscape shown below. The small cross is located where the Felch Ranch was.


Oramel and other members of his family were busy digging up and placing wrapped and cushioned dinosaur bones into boxes and shipping them off to Professor Marsh in Philadelphia. Most likely those bones were brought down to Four Mile or Oil Creek on a sled that was pulled by a horse or mule and then hauled in a wagon to the back room of Eugene Weston’s Curio Shop, then periodically loaded onto a train. In a remarkable piece of detective work the shipment records were acquired by John McIntosh in the 1990’s. It turns out that by January 6, 1878, the Lucas clan had shipped 45 crates of fossil bones back east to Copes new home at 2102 Pine Street in Philadelphia.  (McIntosh, John S. 1998).  Cope’s residence became quickly overloaded so after inspection much of the material was moved to the basement of one of the remaining Centennial Exposition’s abandoned buildings.  

By early August of 1877 Oramel had shipped enough material back to Professor Cope that he was able on the 23rd of August to release a publication entitled, “On a Gigantic Saurian from the Dakota epoch of Colorado“.  Professor Marsh had already published about the discovery of Titanosaurus, “A new and gigantic dinosaur” in the American Journal of Science and Arts. Marsh’s publication enabled Cope to not only describe a new dinosaur that represented a much more gigantic animal, and I believe the largest or most bulky animal capable of progression on land, of which we have any account”.  He must have relished being able to release his publication that featured his dinosaur that was superior in size to Marsh’s Titanosaurus (Cope 1877). 

The name given to the new dinosaur was Camarasaurus supremus with Camarasaurus meaning “chambered lizard” (referring to the hollow chambers in its vertebrae).   Much more dinosaur material arrived to Cope in October and November enabling Cope to develop more detail of the Camarasaurus and other dinosaurs.  

The amount of material collected by Cope’s parties was very large. It was not all prepared at once, but a considerable amount of it was cleaned up by Jacob Geismar under Professor Cope’s direction. In 1877 a reconstruction of the skeleton of Camarasaurus was made by Dr. John A. Ryder, under the direction of Professor Cope. This reconstruction, the first ever made of a sauropod dinosaur, was natural size and embodied representations of the remains of a number of individuals; it was over fifty feet in length. It was exhibited at a meeting of The American Philosophical Society on December 21, 1877, and since has been exhibited a number of times at the American Museum”(Osborn and Mook 1921)

Professor Cope scheduled a talk on Camarasaurus supremus for the December 21, 1877 meeting at the American Philosophical Society. The Society,  founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1743,  were housed in a building still there today that is next door to Independence Hall.  Considering that Cope himself was a renowned speaker, the talk must have drawn a good sized crowd of fellow scientists and philosophers. A number of full sized drawings of bones of Camarasaurus were put on display and arguably a full sized drawing of the Camarasaurus skeleton was presented (about 60 feet long), at least according the Cope Manuscript published in 1921 by Henry Osborn and Charles Mook (Osborn and Mook 1921).  Alternatively it has been suggested by John McIntosh that the full sized drawings of individual bones were put on display but not the entire skeleton drawing (McIntosh, John S. 1998).  Either way it had to be an impressive talk. For paleontologists today the skeleton drawing has obvious noticeable anatomical errors but considering that it was depicting something unknown before it is remarkable in every sense. A reduced drawing was reproduced by Charles Mook and is included below.  Unfortunately, the original drawing was lost. 


Ague, Jay J., Kenneth Carpenter, and John H. Ostrom. 1995. “Solution to the Hallopus Enigma?” American Journal of Science 295 

Baldwin, David. 1877a. “David Baldwin to O.C. Marsh; Feb 10, 1877,” February 10, 1877. 

Charles Felch. 1914. “The Discovery of the Jurassic Beds in Garden Park.” Canon City Record, February 20, 1914.

Cope, E. D. 1877. “On a Gigantic Saurian from the Dakota Epoch of Colorado.” Paleontological  Bulletin 25 (b): 5–10.

Douglass, Earl. 1926. “Othniel C. Marsh Correspondence: Cover Sheets by Earl Douglass Based on Meetings with Sarah (Felch) Zimmerman on October 25, 1925 and July 21, 1926.,” July 21, 1926. Earl Douglass Papers. J. Willard Marriott Digital Library.

Gregory, Joseph. Personal correspondence. 1981. “Letter from Professor Joseph Gregory to Dr. John McIntosh,” May 6, 1981.

Jaffe, Mark. 2000. The Gilded Dinosaur: The Fossil War Between E.D. Cope and O.C. Marsh and the Rise of American Science. First Edition edition. New York: Crown.

Lucas, Oramel. 1877a. “April 6, 1877 Letter to Professor Wright,” April 6, 1877

———. 1877b. “What Is It?” Canon City Avalanche, June 14, 1877.

———. 1877c. “Letter to Editor.” Canon City Avalanche, June 21, 1877, 

———. 1930. “Discovering Dinosaur Bones in Colorado.” Unpublished. Oramel Lucas files. Royal Gorge Regional Museum and History Center.

Lull, Richard Swann, and National Academy of Sciences (U.S.). 1924. Biographical Memoir, Samuel Wendell Williston, 1852-1918. Vol. 17, 5th memoir. Washington, D.C.

Marsh, Othniel Charles. 1877. “Notice of Some New Vertebrate Fossils.” The American Journal of Science and Arts, 3, 14 (September): 249–56.

McIntosh, John S. 1998. “New Information About the Cope Collection of Sauropods from Garden Park, Colorado.” Modern Geology 23: 481–506.

McIntosh, John S, and Kenneth J Carpenter. 1998. “The Holotype of Diplodocus longus, with Comments on Other Specimens of the Genus.” Modern Geology 23: 85–110.

Mudge, Benjamin F. 1877a. “Mudge to Marsh – August 1877 Letters,”

Osborn, Henry F., and Charles Craig Mook. 1919. “Characters and Restoration of the Sauropod Genus Camarasaurus Cope. From Type Material in the Cope Collection in the American Museum of Natural History.” Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 58 (6): 386–96.

Osborn, Henry Fairfield, and Charles Craig Mook. 1921. “Camarasaurus, Amphicoelias, and Other Sauropods of Cope.” Memoirs of the American Museum of Natural History

Shor, Elizabeth Noble. 1971. Fossils and Flies: The Life of a Complete Scientist Samuel Wendell Williston (1851-1918). University of Oklahoma Press.

Sternberg, Charles H. 1909. Life of a Fossil Hunter. 1st ed. Henry Holt and Company.

Walker, A. D. 1970. “A Revision of the Jurassic Reptile Hallopus Victor (Marsh), with Remarks on the Classification of Crocodiles.” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences 257 (816): 323–72.

Williston, Samuel. 1915. “The First Discovery of Dinosaurs in the West.” In Dinosaurs: With Special Reference to the American Museum Collections. New York: American museum of natural history.

———.“Williston, Samuel Wendell Correspondence: 1877 Jul-Oct,” October 1877. the correspondence of O.C. Marsh – Yale Vertebrate Paleontology Department.


Oramel and Ira

Oramel and Ira continue their work in Garden Park at the quarries, mostly Oramel in 1878 and 1879 and Ira taking charge after that until the quarries are “played out” and work ceases near the beginning of 1883. The top billing for these quarries will be Camarasaurus supremus. Over time the genus, Camarasaurus will become one of the more common and well known large sauropod dinosaurs. The species supremus will be the largest of four species of this dinosaur.